If you enjoy guided tours, but you’re tired of viewing all the sights from the window of a bus, perhaps you should consider a bike trip for your next vacation.

Originally popular with hardcore cyclists, bike trips are becoming the touring method of choice for diverse groups of people, from families with small children to senior groups and gatherings. You can find guided bike tours that will match your desired pace in many major destinations, from the idyllic California wine country to the fast-paced thrills of New York City.

Your quick prep guide for bike tours

Through bike touring companies, you’ll find a wide variety of excursions through hundreds of destinations, from cycling day trips to three-week treks. You’ll find a range of guidance levels, from pre-packaged trips to custom private sessions, and even self-guided tours. Best of all, you won’t have to drag your luggage around—the tour company handles that for you.

However, it’s important to remember that once you have your heart set on a bike tour, you have to make sure that your body—and your bike—is on the same page. Below are some tips on choosing a touring bike and getting yourself ready for the big trip.

The bike:

  • A proper fit can mean the difference between smooth sailing and sore nights. Consult a professional bike fitter to help you choose the right size frame, or to make sure your current bike is correctly sized.
  • Before investing thousands in the ultimate road bike, make sure you’re going to get enough use out of it to justify the spending. If you’re new to cycling, you may decide after your first run that you’d rather be on a tour bus. Make your first bike a decent hybrid, which will run in the low hundreds.

The body:

  • If you don’t ride regularly, ease into a training regimen to prepare you for the long haul of a tour. Start out by riding 8 to 10 miles, three times a week, and add 1 to 2 miles each week.
  • Consider joining a local bike club. Most cities have one, and they’re generally open to new members of all skill levels.
  • For added motivation, sign up for a local century ride or a fund-raising bike tour prior to your cycling vacation.

Where to book your bike trip

No matter where you’re looking to vacation, chances are there’s an available bike tour in the area. Plenty of companies offer bike trips across the country, and even overseas.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Bike and Roll: Offering tours throughout New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami, and Washington, D.C.

Sojourn Bicycling & Active Vacations: Bicycle tours in a number of locations across the United States and Canada, including Acadia National Park, Martha’s Vineyard, scenic tours through Vermont, California’s Sonoma Wine Coast, Texas Hill Country, Ottawa to Montreal, and many more.

Senior Cycling: Bike tours especially designed for active seniors. Tour areas include central Florida and the Florida Keys, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, and Quebec, Canada.